I was promised flying cars

In the early 1980s, I was a Customer Service Rep for Michigan Bell Telephone Company. Bell Labs informed us (before Deregulation broke up the Bell Operating Monopoly) that, within a few years, all homes would have personal computers, from which we would watch TV, control our homes’ utilities, unlock our front doors, talk on the phone, store our recipes, and generally do backtothefuture kinda stuff.

It is 2014, now. Nobody remembers Michigan Bell Telephone Company; everybody has a dozen online devices, but we don’t (for the most part) turn up our thermostats, or open our front doors, via the internet. So sue ’em. (Bell Labs/the Bell Operating Companies. They pretty much don’t exist anymore – thanks to “Deregulation”, which came about because somebody sued ’em for having a Monopoly – And I don’t think the company that sued ’em even exists anymore … I sure ’nuff can’t remember the name of it, anymore.)

Land Line Telephone service used to cost pretty dang close to 10 bucks a month (when I worked for Michigan Bell).

Customer Service used to be the main thrust of the Bell Operating Companies. I was trained, by Michigan Bell, to be pretty much a Saint, when it came to value-added customer service.

Some upstart company (I totally have forgotten who-the-heck-they were, and they prolly went belly-up) sued for the right to be Top Dog (or at least Dog Number Two), when I was just a young thing.

Most of the people who will read this blog, were not even a “spark in their dad and mommy’s eye” when all of this happened.

I’m just sayin’ this, tonite, to let you kidlings know that not everything is better than it could have been. When I worked for Michigan Bell, a family could have Home Phone Service for about $10 a month. You (and me) are paying over $100 a month to have an iPhone. (Cool stuff!) And you (but not me) are paying extra bucks just to watch some mindless TV. (I still get mine “free” because my husband had some old-school person put an antenna on our roof.) (Every bit of what we pull in is High Def.)

IDK why I’m thinking about this tonite. Maybe becuz I bought myself a new Nexus 7 today – so that I could more easily read some free Google Books. I was using computers, with ease, before most of you were born. My suite-mates, in college at MSU, were taking classes in computer programming in the early 1970s. My PARENTS (for crying out loud) were using email, and hanging out in “chat rooms”, before I ever even signed up for AOL, or had downloaded a single “app”.

When I bought my very first laptop computer (for $2000!) my millennial child was just a baby. I TAUGHT HIM how to use a computer. He learned how to talk, and to read and write and type on a keyboard all at the same time, when he was only 2 years old. Now he’s grown and married.

Today was the FIRST time (since like 1992) that, when I went shopping for the latest gadget, I wasn’t talked-down-to, by somebody who presumes I just don’t get how computers work.

Just a rant.

I, so far, like my Nexus 7. Can’t be w/o an old-school laptop, though. And my desktop computer is still more “comfortable” to type upon. Just sayin.

Keeping my old Windows XP laptop, too. (Heck, I’ve still got that old DOS laptop that was screamin’ fast in 1992 – it’s an antique now! I had a friend, who died last year in his ’90s, who taught himself how to program a computer, and launched Rapistan into the forefront of the Nuclear Age with his self-taught skills.)

Well, goodnight, then … Just in case anybody cares – I was promised flying cars by now, but we ain’t got ’em yet.



Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“New Church”

I am alarmed by the attitudes of the “New Church” team. They do not care about NECM, they do not care about PaWaTing MeGedWin, they made us evict the loved-of-GOD Hispanic Apostolic Assembly Church – and they surely do not care about the little kids – the children we have served, lo, these many years.

May GOD-Most-High visit them with retribution!

May all their lofty, self-centered ambitions turn to dust in their self-important hands.

Yet, may GOD, Himself, continue what Plainfield UMC tried to do, for love’s sake, among the people who live, if only for a little while, in the neighborhood of Plainfield and Spencer Streets, NE, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Write this in Heaven, please, GOD our redeemer!

Posted in Blogging | Tagged | Leave a comment


A woman I met today, a woman dressed in a mini skirt and flashy orange sweater, a woman too skinny to be comforting to anybody’s baby-child, a woman whose face and body looked, to me, like 20 miles of bad road, a woman trained to sell high-end houses and to prey upon the vanities of those who find themselves to be just terribly important, a woman appropriated to be the take-over trustee of an abandoned church building, told me today that I’m not old.

She is possibly 5 or 10 years younger than me. And yes, I admit, I probably do look younger than the image in her mirror.

But I am old. Trust me on this.

I dyed my hair last Saturday. (To get rid of the pole-cat look that a stripe of white down the side of my otherwise-brown head had bequeathed upon me these past few years, since Scooter died.)

I artfully applied some L’Oriel old-lady make-up before I left for work this morning. If you don’t move in too close, my skin looks radiant and flawless.

I am trying to “pass” for a woman in her 40’s. Only because I need to find myself a new job. And nobody wants to hire wonderfully skillful me, if they can see that I am 60 years old.

So it’s all smoke and mirrors, kids!

I can do wonderful things as a prayerful employee. I’ve got skills that God was developing in me when the 20-somethings, 30-somethings, 40-something’s, and even 50-somethings were still babes-in-arms.

I guess it’s good that I’ve always looked way younger than my years. With some extra help from the science of L’Oriel, I guess maybe I can even almost fool the youthful hiring managers out there. That’s my plan, anyway. But the plan sucks!

Sigh. We do what we gotta do to survive, don’t we?

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Happy Hour in Michigan

Cousin Adrienne sent me this photo shortly after we “met” online:

Happy Hour in Michigan

“Happy Hour in Michigan”

Adrienne and I live on opposite sides of the state, and didn’t meet each other face-to-face until several years later, but that’s another story.

Once Adrienne had gotten me addicted to genealogy research, I started looking for our “brick wall” ancestor, Mary Lawrence.

While I was up to my eyeballs in Census records, Adrienne and I lost touch with each other for a while.

The following are excerpts of email exchanges between Adrienne and me after she saw that I had found “Mary Etta.”

Sat. Apr 14, 2007 10:48:06 PM

Dear [Username Withheld],

I saw that you submitted a personal tree to Ancestry which contains:

Name: Mary Etta Lawrence
Birth Date: 1853
Birth Place: Leonidas, St. Joseph, Michigan, USA
Tree Name: Rani Kaye’s Family Tree

Do you have more information about this person that you could share with me?

Thank you, Adrienne

Springtime in Michigan“Springtime in Michigan”

Sat. Apr 14, 2007 11:51:51 PM

Hi Adrienne!  I do have a little more info on our family now than what I did the last time we were in touch.  I’m glad to have your new email address!  Cousin Rob told me you moved, and he gave me your new home address and phone number and I’ve been meaning to call you but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

What I’ll do as soon as I get this email sent off to you, is I’ll do an invite to my tree through Ancestry.com that will let you see anything you want to on the tree.  I’ll give you “editor” privileges, which means you can upload photos, edit info, add info, whatever.  If you don’t have a tree going on Ancestry.com, feel free to just use mine as your homepage and add your branches. –She ended up doing this; and so did about 37 other cousins of mine! —

I talked to Rob a few weeks ago … he had sent me his tree on a CD.  His computer was down for quite a while, I guess … and I think he’s still not able to use his Family Tree Maker Software.  Rob’s got an invitation to connect to our tree, too, but he hasn’t gotten around to accepting the invite yet (or else he isn’t sure how to do so) … I’ve been meaning to call him to see if he wants me to resend the invite.

If you want to call me tomorrow night, feel free!  My phone number is still ___.  I’m usually working on genealogy every Sunday, Monday, Friday, and Saturday evening from 8 or 9 o’clock until about 11:30 p.m., so feel free to call any of those days and times.

Good to hear from you again!  Send me an email if you can’t call.  Love, Rani

Sun. Apr 15, 2007  12:06:02 AM

Hi Rani!

I’m so glad to be in touch with you again! Guess what? Today at noon I found the highchair that was handmade and beautifully carved in 1919 by great uncle Albert White (Hortense and Jacob’s brother). It was in my Aunt Margaret’s basement hidden away in a dark corner. It was a day away from being tossed into a dumpster by a demolition crew (her home was condemned and is being gutted this weekend). I salvaged some old photos and found one of you today too with Hortense and some other children. The note on the back said it was Hortense’s birthday. You were a cute little kid.

I’m really glad that you are in contact with Rob. He went off line and I couldn’t get hold of him anymore. I tried sending e-mails, but they were never answered. I was afraid that maybe he had passed away. We talked on the phone once and he had planned to come to Michigan for a visit, but that was the last I heard from him

How on earth did you find out Mary’s middle name and where Charles White was from? It has driven me nuts trying to find that information? I was really excited to see it. I signed up with Ancestry.com just so I could e-mail you.

I hope you’ve been well and your family too. We are in a new house now. The address, if you ever need it, is: ____ My phone numbers are:  Home ___ Cell ___.

Really good to hear from you, Adrienne.

Sun. Apr 15, 2007 4:39 PM

Dear Adrienne,

Wow — Did you know the highchair existed before you found it? How did you find out who made it? What a find!

Re: the photos from my great-grandma’s birthday — are the other children Donny, Jeri Louise, and Denny H__? I don’t have a copy of that picture, but for some reason I think I remember having seen photos that were taken that day.

Did you connect to me at Ancestry.com yet? I am still working on putting everything from my tree onto my page at Ancestry.com. That’s a lot of data entry, and not as much fun as research is … but I really want to have it online, and sourced, so that family members can get to it and don’t have to duplicate any work that I have done.


We wrote a couple more emails back-and-forth discussing the high chair and my childhood cuteness:


Then I wrote back to explain how I found Mary Etta:

Sun. Apr 15, 2007  8:47:11 PM

Adrienne, I found Mary Etta about a year ago.  I just now got out the paper trail so I could reconstruct the steps that brought me to her.

In January of 2006 I found at the LDS site a Marriage listed between Wm Woodrick born in Germany, parents John Woodrick and Sophia Tinna on 01 Sep 1897 in Centreville, St. Joseph, Michigan, to May White.  I was pretty sure this “May” was Hortense Mae, because Wm. sure seemed to be my gr-grandpa.

Meanwhile, I was also trying to find Mary E. Lawrence’s first husband (Mr. “Davis”).  In May of 2006 I found a Marriage record for Wilson S. Davis born in Cincinnatti, Hamilton, Ohio to Mary E. A. Lawrence born in St. Joseph, Michigan – Marriage Date 27 Mar 1872 in Van Buren, Michigan.

I knew from the 1880 Census that Mary Lawrence’s father was born in Canada, and that she was born about 1855 in Michigan.  So I knew that she and her parents should have been in the 1860 US Census.

So I just read through 1860 Census Lawrences, found Marietta in St. Joseph, noted that the Davis marriage said his Mary E. A. was born in St. Joseph, (I think I remember looking at the original handwritten copy of this Mary E. A. and realizing that the .. between the E and the A was a double t, but I didn’t keep a copy of that — I just remember saying to myself, “that’s Mary Etta, not Mary E. A!”)

After I found Marietta Lawrence, daughter of Boswell in the 1860 Census, I looked for Boswell in other years.  When I saw that in 1850 the Lawrences lived right next door to a bunch of Whites, I figured this must be my Lawrences.

I think the next door White family is what eventually got me to Charles Henry, but I didn’t figure him out until a couple months ago.  I have not attached all the census records to everybody at Ancestry.com yet.  I just added a couple more records as I was reconstructing this sequence of events for you.  I will try to work on attaching the rest of them now after I send this to you.

On the trail of Charles Henry, I have been transcribing White censuses from all over the country.  You see, I have another elusive White ancestor on my DAD’s side too.  I just recently found the both of them, and boy was that satisfying, but it really took a lot of work.

Talk to you later.  Rani

Marietta 1860 Census


If you’re not into genealogy, this blog post probably seems BORING – but this is the kind of stuff that gets Adrienne & me more excited, even, than “Happy Hour.”

Posted in Genealogy | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

How I got addicted

I have always looked at the world through my grandmas’ eyes. I’m the only blue-eyed child of my brown-eyed parents. But my grandmas all had blue eyes.

You can’t tell that any of us are blue-eyed in these black-and-white photos, but trust me – our eyes are all blue.

With My Grandmas EyesWhen I was in high school or college I remember my dad showing me The Wenger Book. “My dad’s in here, but I’m not,” he told me. That was my first sip, and just goes to show you that like alcoholism, genealogy addiction is a genetic predisposition. My Mennonite ancestors have been recording every marriage, every birth, every death, every departure from the faith, since 1727.

But that first taste of pure genealogy didn’t hook me. Oh no. Even though my own father tried to tempt me, through the years, with stories about Grandma Hammond’s farm, I stayed in my own century.

Daddy knew, though. He recalled that when I was very, very young, he drove me past Grandma Hammond’s old place and I looked at him and said, “I think I was born in the wrong century.”

“Flossie’s got the Wenger Book,” Dad would remind me from time-to-time. “She keeps the genealogy for our line.” I would ask him again who Flossie is, and how she’s related to me, but I never tried to contact her.

In 1977, ABC aired the miniseries, Roots. I’m not generally one to watch much TV, but I watched every second of that show!

After the final episode, I called each of my oldest living relatives and asked for the names of their parents. I drew out a family tree with the info that they gave me. The original copy that I wrote that day got lost, but it looked something like this:

Family Tree

Well, now, that was intoxicating! Aunt Sissy told me that her grandpa was a son of Kaisar Wilhelm! She claimed to have seen a picture of him “on a high horse.” She said he married a commoner and was disowned. So he came to America.

When I quizzed the rest of my great-aunts, they all said, “Oh, Sis tells that to everybody.” When I asked my mom, she said she had never heard such a thing. (Mom was lying. Wait till you get to the end of the story ;-))

So, my husband went around telling people that I descended from Royalty, and I followed behind denying it; and I tucked the original Family Tree into a book or something, and I don’t know where it is anymore.

Then, on July 28, 2003, I was using AOL to check my emails, and they put up a banner ad that said, “Where were your ancestors in 1930? Free look at the 1930 U.S. Census.”

I had never followed a link before, but I typed in the name of my great-grandma, and up popped a Census page!


My great-grandma was already a widow, and taking in Lodgers. My grandma Wilma was 18 years old and still living at home. And the man she would eventually marry was one of the Lodgers!

I used this census image to start a little family tree on ancestry.com, filling in the names of all the people that I knew.

And then I called my mom, to ask her, “Did you know that your mother and dad lived together before they were married?”

I was intoxicated again, but I still wasn’t hooked. I may have been genetically pre-disposed to genealogy addiction, but it was a stranger who entered my life a few days later that pushed me over the abyss.

I signed on to AOL, and heard the familiar, “You’ve got mail!”

Somebody named Adrienne said she had found my little “Hortense Mae White” tree on the internet. Adrienne claimed that Hortense Mae White was her aunt. She said she was very excited to find me, and would I please write her back.

She said her grandfather, Jacob White, was Hortense’s brother.

She said she had already found one of my cousins – Rob – on Cousin Connect.

I called my mom. I had never known anybody to call my cousin Bob by the name of “Rob”, so I thought there was something fishy about this Adrienne.

Mom told me, “Bob is Roy’s son. But Rob is Carl’s son. You don’t know him. He moved back East. And yes, grandma did have a brother Jake.”

So I wrote Adrienne back. Apparently she was hovering over her keyboard waiting for me to respond. (Adrienne is SO intense!)

She immediately rapid-fired a succession of emails with picture attachments.

I had never opened an email attachment in my life! I was so scared my computer would catch a virus, and yet I was terribly curious what this Adrienne character was sending me.

So I held my breath. And clicked.

Slowly this image appeared:


It was a photo identical to one my grandpa had given me when my grandma Wilma died. On the back of my copy of the photo, my grandpa had written, “Wilma’s uncle Albert.”

So then I knew that Adrienne really was my cousin.

Adrienne put me in touch with cousin Rob.

Rob told me that Aunt Sissy had given him all the details on the Woodrick side back in the 1960s.

Since Rob was much older than I, Aunt Sissy had not found it necessary to sanitize the Kaisar Wilhelm connection.

Turns out great-great-great grandpa was the illegitimate son of Kaisar Wilhelm.

I called my mom.

“Oh, I knew that,” she said.

Adrienne and I are now the best of friends, and we have had many adventures together in the past decade. My mother (grr) is not particularly helpful. She feigns disinterest. When I ask her things, she says, “Oh. I don’t know.” When I find the answers on my own, Mom says, “Oh. I knew that.” Sometimes, some times, at that point she will begin to tell me stories …

“Why would you want to know that?” is her usual response, though. She’s a dear woman. I love her with all my heart.

“Oh those Mennonites of your dad’s. They HAD to keep track of their genealogy you know. And I know why! To keep from marrying their first cousins!”

… Oh, Mom. If you only knew what I know now in YOUR tree …

to be continued

Posted in Genealogy | Tagged , , , , , | 25 Comments

Currently reading: YOUR blogs

Thank you, WordPress bloggers, for filling my email inbox while I spent a week networking with the fine folks at Microsoft.com who really did, free-for-nuthun’ FIX my computer with a great deal of patience, good will, and expertise!

I have begun to catch up on my reading tonight. (My husband has to work the holidays – but fear not: we celebrated Christmas Sunday afternoon.)

I have deliciously read through about 50 of about 100 email notifications about what ya’ll have been thinking these past 7 days. I am a reader first, and a writer second. And I really appreciate each and every one of you!

Merry Christmas, cyber-friends!

:-) Rani

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Finished my Christmas shopping


Finished my Christmas shopping tonight; and finished (I sincerely hope) resolving my computer’s “issues” thanks to a TON of support by very nice people in India who are employed by Microsoft. My computer’s issues were escalated to “Tier 2″ and I had about 72 hours worth of free support. God bless Jim (in Canada, I think, and then Sudan and then Prashandt, both in India, I think).

So: I have shopped. Tomorrow I must wrap gifts and prepare food. On Sunday, after church, the family comes to my house. We are having food: ham on buns, shrimp cocktail which my sons will fight over, spinach dip & Triscuit crackers, Vegie Dip & vegies, devilled eggs, potato chips, and olives (both black & green – hubby LOVES olives).

What are YOU doing for Christmas?

Besides preparing food tomorrow for Sunday, I have all those gifts to wrap.

Merry Christmas, WordPress friends!

Posted in Blogging | Tagged | 4 Comments